McDowell Center Adding Digital Literacy to Educational Programs
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The NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity made awards on May 31 for the state’s first digital navigator initiative to help people navigate the digital world.
“All North Carolinians need the skills to safely access the internet and its many resources,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Digital navigators will provide local assistance to help more people learn to use the internet for health, education and jobs.
N.C. Cooperative Extension was awarded $1.3 million to hire digital literacy and skills extension agents in participating counties and train existing extension agents to host digital literacy and skills educational opportunities in their communities. The McDowell Center will be offering educational training to develop digital literacy in our community. Molly Sandfoss will be taking on this role in addition to her existing educational programs. Her goal is to work with the populations that most need this service. Anyone wanting to set up an email account, navigate the web safely, as well as other life skills that the internet has opened up to us like online banking and telemedicine…these programs to develop digital skills are for you.
One of the goals is to get people connected through programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program. Molly and others can help navigate this program. The NCCE-McDowell Center has the tools to provide hands-on training at locations throughout the county. If your organization would like to schedule a training, please call 828-652-8104 or email Molly_Sandfoss@ncsu.edu.
The Office of Digital Equity and Literacy, a part of the Division of Broadband and Digital Equity within NCDIT, awarded grants to two other major anchor institutions that serve every county:
- State Library of North Carolina: Awarded $1.3 million to provide digital navigation services at libraries by hiring regional digital inclusion facilitators and a digital inclusion coordinator to assist participating public and tribal libraries statewide.
- N.C. Community College System: Awarded $1.3 million to deploy trained digital navigators at 20 community colleges serving Tier 1 and 2 counties, create a Spanish and English version of the Digital Navigator Certificate, and recruit adults from communities most impacted by the digital divide to serve as digital navigators.
“Digital navigators play a pivotal role in helping communities across the state connect to the internet and engage in the modern economy,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “By partnering with these anchor institutions, we are creating meaningful digital literacy resources to help more North Carolinians on a one-to-one basis.”
The digital navigator initiative uses federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and encourages collaborative partnerships that positively impact all North Carolinians, including: the aging; people who live in rural areas; veterans; households at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level; individuals with disabilities; members of a racial or ethnic minority group; immigrants; individuals with a language barrier, including those who are English learners and/or have low levels of literacy; people who are LGBTQI+; and incarcerated individuals.
For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity or Governor Cooper’s plan to close the digital divide in North Carolina, please visit https://www.ncbroadband.gov. For more information about digital literacy programs at the McDowell Center, call 828-652-8104.